African swine fever: Outbreak, yes, epidemic, no – William Dar
Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Monday said the African swine fever (ASF) episodes in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal may be considered an outbreak, but not an epidemic.
“Specifically, ASF was already contained in Barangay Pritil, Guiguinto, Bulacan; and in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo, Rizal –and not in the entire country,” Dar said in a statement.
Dar earlier warned hog raisers who fail to report about their sick pigs could face jail time and fines.
“They violated RA (Republic Act) 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act, as they deprived their dead pigs of adequate care, maltreating them in the process,” he said.
Under the law, neglecting to provide adequate care to animals is punishable with imprisonment of six months to two years, and a fine of P1,000 to P5,000.
Dar said hog raisers should report sick and dead pigs to their respective municipal or city veterinarians who will then coordinate with the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to determine the cause of sickness or death.
He noted that those who dispose of dead pigs in public places can also face fines of PHP300 to PHP1,000 or up to 15 days of community service as they violated the Solid Waste Management Act.
Dar’s warning came as dead pigs were seen and recovered floating in waterways in Quezon City and Marikina City, which are near Rizal and Bulacan provinces wherein were pigs tested positive of ASF virus.
“It was utterly irresponsible on the part of the backyard raisers as they did not only violate current laws, but their misdoing also spread the disease pathogens much faster,” he said.
“The irresponsible dumping of dead pigs simply adds scare to the public, and this should not be tolerated. The perpetrators must be punished in accordance with the law,” he added.
Meanwhile, the DA chief appealed to the media and general public not to ignite fears regarding ASF, as unverified and unvalidated reports could create an irreversible damage to the country’s PHP260-billlion swine industry that provides and sustains the livelihood of millions of Filipino families.
“Around two-thirds or 65 percent of the industry is contributed by small backyard raisers,” Dar said.
He noted that 7,416 pigs in the one-kilometer radius in ASF areas in Rizal and Bulacan have already been depopulated following the 1-7-10 protocol of the DA to manage, contain and control the spread of the disease.
For instance, one ASF-infected slaughterhouse in Brgy. Gitnang Bayan 1, San Mateo, Rizal, has already been closed, cleaned, and disinfected.
Dar said continuous strict surveillance is being conducted in areas near ASF-infected barangays in Rizal and Bulacan.
Under the 1-7-10 protocol, all pigs within the one-kilometer radius of infected farms will be culled in view of the reported presence of a swine disease.
For swine farms within a 7-kilometer radius, the BAI and concerned regional field offices would conduct surveillance procedures, test animals to determine the extent of the infection, and limit animal movement.
On the other hand, swine farms within a 10-kilometer radius will be required to submit a mandatory report on the disease.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier released some PHP82.5 million to the DA-BAI ,which will cover the funding requirements for the ASF preventive measures.
Of the PHP82.5 million, some PHP31.8 million will be earmarked for maintenance of security for detection of meat and meat products at the international airports; PHP27.7 million for testing of samples of meat and meat products; PHP17.6 million for surveillance and monitoring; and PHP5.4 million for awareness campaign and capacity building.
Dar also assured the public that the incident will not affect the supply and prices of pork in the market, stressing that the ASF is confined and specific in certain areas only and not in the entire country.
“The DA –in partnership with LGUs at all levels, the private sector, PNP (Philippine National Police) and the military– has enhanced its monitoring activities and imposed stricter biosecurity and quarantine measures to contain the spread of ASF in other areas,” he said. (PNA)